Consejo de defensa sudamericano

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The South American Defense Council

Are there possibilities for a Regional Security Framework in South America?
Dr. Pablo Genta Fons

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The most ambitious and significant project undertaken by South America’s countries has been the creation of theSouth American Defense Council – SDC, as an agency of the Union of South American Nations – UNASUR - , to mediate regional conflicts and defend South America fro foreign interventions. This SDC project was proposed by Brazilian President, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva at a meeting of the Latin American countries held in Brasilia in May 2008, and could be concretized by the end of this year. OnlySouth American countries will be part of this Council.

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The analysis of the current political situation and security in South America is far from promising.
During the last years, the region’s situation in respect to bilateral conflicts and ideological antagonisms has become increasingly worse, on what some annalist had called “the FIC situation” referring to Fragmentation,Intervention and Conflict.

The risk that we had foreseen a couple of years ago has now resulted in the fragmentation of the continental unity.
This fragmentation is particularly linked with the regional hegemonic aspirations of a new actor: President Chavez sponsored by Venezuela’s huge petroleum profits.
President Chavez has divided our region in two axes: the Monroe Axe and theBolivarian Axe.
The criteria to categorise each country in one or another group is based on ideological reasons, in a sort of revival of the cold war, even after socialism has collapsed.
The key factor that indicates if a country belongs to the “evil group” or not, is the signature of Free Trade Agreements with the US.
Thus, México, Central America, Colombia, Peru and Chile have been identified byPresident Chavez as belonging to the “Monroe” axe.
On the other hand, the “Bolivarian Axe” runs from Caracas to Managua, Tegucigalpa and Quito, and south way to La Paz and Buenos Aires.

Within this scenario, some of the main principles that govern State behavior in the region are no longer respected.
That is the case of the non intervention principle that was originated in Latin America,with Uruguay’s special support. It has become a fundamental part of the Latin American legal system, and has been incorporated in the United Nations legal system through Article 2.7 of the UN Charter and General Assembly Resolution 2625.
During the Cold War, there were multiple occasions in which the principle was violated, particularly associated with Castro’s regime, and different US Governments.However, since then, the principle has consolidated itself as a cornerstone of regional relations.
But President Chavez presence in the region has dramatically changed the political scenario and countries attitude towards the non intervention principle.
Venezuela has openly intervened in national elections in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.
But not only onelection processes. Chavez has become involved on every domestic conflict that has arisen in every country of the region.
This behaviour has been emulated by other Governments, in a growing context of ignorance of that principle, that heap’s on the potentiality of conflicts and leaves Latin America without legal certainty.

And Conflict is the natural consequence of fragmentation andintervention.
Our continent has traditionally been considered the one with less potentiality for conflict in the area of international security.
It only produces 1% of the world’s weapons and its incidence in military expenses is only 3%.
However, the skyrocketing price of oil, copper and gas is facilitating the arms industry reappearance.
These raw materials provide the financial support...
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